The Scottish Episcopal church has responded defiantly to de facto sanctions imposed on it by the global Anglican communion over its decision to allow same-sex marriages, saying “love means love”.
Responding to the move, Mark Strange, the bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and primus of the Scottish Episcopal church, said he recognised that the decision to allow same-sex marriage was “one that has caused some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican communion”.
The sorry state of the Catholic conversation about same-sex love prompts us to make a constructive proposal. If we have any hope of moving the discussion in a justice-seeking direction, we need a new approach to the problems of homohatred and heterosexism that begins not with church teaching but with real people’s lives. Rehashing old arguments on the morality of sexual activity, about which there is substantial and deeply hurtful disagreement, is useless.
It is time to listen to the experiences and expertise of people who speak with integrity rather than authority.
We are Catholic lesbian/queer women who enjoy our sexuality and rejoice in our relationships. We love out loud. It is time to listen to the experiences and expertise of people who speak with integrity rather than authority, whose lives are not circumscribed by clericalism, people who are free to be honest and transparent.
The church must reconsider its treatment of LGBT persons, especially those who have been fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientations.
I was visiting missionary friends in Turkana, a remote, arid, and desolate region of Kenya, in the summer of 2001. My friends had asked me to help baptize 40 nomadic women at a distant outstation chapel, about a three-hour drive from the main mission over rocky terrain and river beds that pass for roads. These women were shepherds who tended their communal flock of goats. (The men remained at home to care for the animals.)
Our journey was nothing compared to that of the women and congregation, who traveled for two hours by foot for their baptismal Mass. We were delayed because our jeep overheated. The assembly had already been gathered for an hour and sang hymns while they waited for us.
In a notable contribution to a document on LGBT discrimination and belief for the UN Human Rights Commission, Krzysztof Charamsa lays out all the ways in which the Catholic Church actively discriminates against LGBTI Catholics. It’s not comfortable reading.
One of the key points in my own thinking about the Catholic Church and queer Catholics, came when I heard Charamsa speak at the 2019 conference of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups in Gdansk. Like many others, I’ve been delighted by the notable change in pastoral tone coming from the church, ever since Pope Francis took on the see of Rome. Charamsa’s talk in Gdansk however, was a sobering reminder that notwithstanding the changes in pastoral tone, core doctrines remain unchanged – and these can be extremely damaging, even dangerous, to the emotional, spiritual and even physical health of LGBT Catholics.
If you’re looking for a Catholic priest who inspires people—and makes them laugh and think—James Martin, SJ, is your guy. At the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s annual conference, he’s greeted like a rock star by swarms of young Catholics who devour his books and remember him as Stephen Colbert’s “chaplain” on the Colbert Report. To say this is unusual is an understatement. Millennials are leaving the church in droves, turned off in part by an institution that has made opposition to same-sex marriage central to Catholic identity in the public square.
This generation of Catholics remains inspired by the church’s rich social justice tradition, has no patience for the culture wars, and is disgusted that their religious leaders are often perceived to be fighting against the human rights of gay people. When I heard the news last Friday that the seminary at Catholic University of America canceled a scheduled talk from Martin because a network of Catholic right attack dogs launched an ugly campaign against him, I cringed. The already-thin thread barely connecting these young Catholics to the institutional church just got thinner. Self-inflicted wounds are hard to heal.
Both bishops observe that this is not a survey on Church (sacramental) marriage but on civil marriage, marriage according to the law of the State. The question has no impact on church practices nor on our freedom of religion.
Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta and Bishop Bill Wright of Maitland-Newcastle have effectively removed any “Catholic” arguments against supporting marriage equality and stress the responsibility of Catholics to discern carefully in determining their “vote”.
Christians must be very confused about how their religious beliefs should influence their views on the current marriage equality survey, officially described in the ABS mail-out as “Your Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey”.
Some so-called Christian positions seem to suggest that there is an inherent Christian exclusion of the possibility of civil same-sex marriage. The most careful and authoritative Christian analyses to date may have come from separate pastoral…
More (behind a paywall) at: La Croix International
Last year Father Martin undertook a particularly perilous project in this work of evangelization: building bridges between the church and the L.G.B.T. community in the United States. He entered it knowing that the theological issues pertaining to homosexuality constituted perhaps the most volatile element of ecclesial life in U.S. culture.
It was this very volatility that spurred Father Martin to write his new book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity. Using a methodology that is fully consonant with Catholic teaching, employing Scripture, the rich pastoral heritage of the church and an unadulterated realism that makes clear both the difficulty and the imperative for establishing deeper dialogue, Father Martin opens a door for proclaiming that Jesus Christ and his church seek to embrace fully and immediately men and women in the L.G.B.T. community.
More: America Magazine
THE Catholic Church is ramping up its involvement in the same-sex marriage debate, distributing information for inclusion in bulletins and leaflets urging parishioners to vote No.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher sent hundreds of flyers to city churches and published articles available on many church websites encouraging worshippers to volunteer and donate to the Coalition for Marriage.
“Vote No in the Postal Plebiscite on Marriage,” reads an entry in this weekend’s bulletin at St Anthony of Padua Parish Clovelly. “A change in the marriage law has consequences for freedom of religion, including the ability of individuals to live out their faith in everyday life, for Priests to preach and Catholic schools to teach about marriage, and for faith-based charities to continue to take a pro-marriage stance.”
AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF CATHOLIC COMPLEMENTARITY
Gender complementarity has since Pope John Paul II dominated official Roman Catholic discussions about gender and sexuality. It has become the all-purpose explanation for why the church cannot change its teachings or practices in these areas. Men and women, we are told, have essential and changeless natures that are permanently different and that prescribe not interchangeable roles. Gender complementarity encounters skepticism in major Catholic publications, such as America, Commonweal and the National Catholic Reporter, as well as more broadly among Roman Catholic theologians and ethicists. The fundamental intellectual problem with gender complementarity is that it rests on a circular argument. Gender complementarity is allegedly a fact of nature and therefore the self-evident basis of what the hierarchy has to teach about the “natural” institutions of marriage and family. The church, so the argument goes, is simply following natural law (the moral rules inscribed by nature on human society). Despite the supposed factuality of gender complementarity, it would seem that it can only be authentically recognized in the forms of marriage and family that the church prescribes. In short, gender complementarity supposes a natural law framework of which at the same time it is the foundation. This is an intellectual house of cards that collapses as soon as one asks what evidence, external to the teaching of the church, we have that such facts actually exist in nature! Natural law proclaims that self-evident facts of nature can be recognized not only by faithful Catholics but by all human beings. When scientific evidence cannot confirm these facts and when so much of ordinary human experience contradicts them, natural law appears to be more an artifice of authority than a narrative of objective reality.
More: Sheila Briggs, at Conscience Magazine
If you have not heard of Nancy Ledins, who passed away in July at age 84, her story is very much worth reading if you are concerned with Catholic LGBT issues.
Nancy Ledins leading worshipLedins, then presenting as a man, was an ordained Roman Catholic priest for ten years. A member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, she left the priesthood in 1969 to get married to a former woman religious. Eventually the couple divorced around the time that Ledins transitioned in 1979.
In news accounts and profiles of Ledins after her transition, the perennial question of whether she was still a Catholic priest arose. Reporter John Dart of the Los Angeles Times explored this question in 1980. He wrote at the time, as reported by the Charlotte Observer this year:
“‘[Ledins] might be the first woman priest in Roman Catholic history in a technical sense. . .since she never sought to be returned officially to lay status, has never been summarily notified of such by the church and, by the usual understanding of church law, is still a priest – though not a legally functioning one.’”
The National Catholic Reporter’s (NCR) coverage agreed with this assessment, saying the first woman priest came about not through a bishop but through a surgeon. Incidentally, Ledins’ had her gender-confirming surgery on Holy Thursday when the church celebrates the institution of the priesthood.
Church officials never formally responded to Ledin’s situation, and Ledins has never challenged that silence. She told NCR that though technically ordained, “there is probably a canon somewhere that spells my demise as a priest” if she tried to celebrate the sacraments. Still, on the 55th anniversary of her ordination, Ledins prayed:
“‘Lord Father, my special thanks for the gift of ordination and ministry over the years. . .And thank you for letting me be here. Amen and amen. Alleluia.’”
How a Woman Became a Dominican Priest, and Teacher of Moral Theology